Microsoft has made it possible for various Linux distributions to run on its Azure cloud platform. The Linux services will go live on Azure at 4 a.m. EDT on Thursday. At that time, the Azure portal will offer a number of Linux distributions, including Suse Linux Enterprise Server 11 SP2, OpenSuse 12.01, CentOS 6.2 and Canonical Ubuntu 12.04.
Azure users will be able to choose and deploy a Linux distribution from the Microsoft Windows Azure Image Gallery and be charged on an hourly pay-as-you-go basis. In addition, users can now own virtual machines on Azure places, in the form of a virtual hard drive (vhd), while a number of partner companies now have the opportunity to Linux images on Azure to activate.
In Suse’s case, Azure users have the freedom of choice between the Suse Linux Enterprise Server or OpenSuse. SUSE makes it easy to extend SUSE Linux Enterprise Server-based applications to Windows Azure using the one-click-deployment capabilities of SUSE Studio. Suse can automatically update these virtual distributions with security patches, bug fixes and new features.
Microsoft classifies the available Linux images provisionally as a technology preview. Besides the four Linux distributions Azure users also use Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows Server 2012 Release Candidate running in the cloud environment from Microsoft.
The Linux virtual machines are now offered in technology preview mode, so pricing has not been announced. Programming can be done in .NET, Node.js, PHP, Java, and Python on Windows, Mac and Linux, exception making .NET development supported only via VS 2010 and VS 2012 on Windows.
Microsoft also announced Windows Azure Web sites to a hosting framework that was previously known under the code name Antares. Azure now supports both Python and Java, as well as Web development technologies such as Node.js and PHP, which will pave the way for easy use of Web content management tools such as WordPress, Drupal and Joomla.